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Reading *Twilight*: Analytical Essays
full name / name of organization:
Giselle Liza Anatol
Stephenie Meyer’s vampire saga, *Twilight*, has sold more than 42 million copies. The first installment, first published in 2005, was the best selling book of 2008; the fourth and final novel sold 1.3 million copies on the first day alone. The novels have been translated into 37 languages, and their popularity earned Meyer the title of USA Today’s 2008 “Author of the Year,” as well as comparisons to J.K. Rowling. *Twilight* might very well be the most formative children’s literature series since the Harry Potter novels.
The phenomenal success of Meyer’s vampire narratives and others like them makes interpreting their underlying messages and themes vital for understanding the ways that we perceive and interact with each other in contemporary society. Literary critics have interpreted vampires from Bram Stoker’s Dracula to *True Blood*’s Bill Compton in numerous ways: as symbols of deviant sexuality; as transgressive figures of female empowerment; as xenophobic representations of the foreign or racial Other; as a way to interrogate human relationships with the divine; as metaphors for an overly commercialized society that preys on commodity-fixated subjects; as voraciously consumed pop culture narratives that reveal the attitudes of the masses. The *Twilight* saga is no exception. And while its popularity across a wide spectrum of readers renders it worthy of analysis, its marketing towards young adult audiences—readers who might not look critically at the materials they so eagerly take in—necessitates a closer examination.
For this contributed volume, the editor seeks essays from a wide array of disciplines and theoretical approaches. Writing may explore, but need not be limited to, the following topics:
--the *Twilight* novels in a literary-historical context: for example, contextualizing Meyer’s books in the vampire literature tradition and discussing them in conjunction with work by another writer, such as Bram Stoker, Heinrich Ossenfelder, John Keats, Anne Rice, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Poppy Brite, Brian Lumley, Suzy McKee Charnas, Tananarive Due, Octavia Butler, Charlaine Harris, etc. One might also consider Twilight’s place in the genre of teen romance, the gothic tradition, etc.
--comparisons between the Twilight books and their film adaptations
--connections to the plethora of vampire characters on television: analysis of vampire-plot episodes on CSI, Crossing Jordan, The X-Files, etc. or vampire series such as True Blood, Blade, Forever Knight, Moonlight, The Munsters, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, etc.
--parent-child relationships; questions of authority and teenage rebellion
--“race,” ethnicity, and cultural diversity in the *Twilight* series
--connections to vampire myths and narratives in other cultural traditions
--questions of nationalism and political ideology
--sex and sexuality; eroticism; constructions of masculinity and femininity; role modeling
--issues of socio-economic class
--teaching vampire narratives; pedagogical issues in kindergarten through college classrooms, with stories from *Bunnicula* to *Twilight*
--fandom—slash, fanart, gaming, zines, etc.
Deadline for abstracts (250 words): October 1, 2009.
Please send abstract and a brief biographical sketch to Giselle Liza Anatol at
University of Kansas
For more information, please contact Dr. Anatol at or (785) 864-2530.